The best way to understand the concepts introduced in this chapter is to get some mouse-on experience. Fortunately, FileMaker Pro gives you a quick way to jumpstart a new database.
Although a database can do just about anything, most people want to do a few of the same things (like keep track of their contacts). Accordingly, FileMaker Pro comes with dozens of prebuilt templates: sample databases that you can fill in with your own data and even customize as you see fit. A template is essentially a sample database, without any information filled in yet. Templates let you start up a database quickly, and as you go along, change or expand it to suit your needs. Almost any conceivable database can be built on one of these foundational layouts; see the box on Section 126.96.36.199 for the full catalog.
Tip: if you're the DIY type, see Chapter 3 for instructions on designing your own database layout from scratch.
Since just about everybody in the world needs to keep track of people, a good place to start your FileMaker experience is with a Contact Management database, which does just what its name suggests: It keeps track of people and their various numbers and addresses. This is the template you might use if, for example, you volunteer for a local repertory company and need a place to store the names and addresses of all season-ticket holders. Once you've entered all the information, you can use the database to, say, print letters asking your subscribers for donations to provide new cup holders for the orchestra pit.
1.2.1. Choosing a Template
To start a new database from a template, you start by opening the template. Launch FileMaker Pro (by using the Start images/U2192.jpg border=0> Programs menu in Windows, for example, or clicking its Dock icon on the Mac) and choose File images/U2192.jpg border=0> New Database. The New Database dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-4.
Note: Keyboard shortcut aficionados beware. If you're used to typing Ctrl+N (-N) for a new document, you're in for a surprise. In FileMaker, that command makes a new record, not a new file. So when you really do want a new file, you'll have to resort to using the mouse and the menu.
To open the Contact Management template:
The list shows each template in this category. You can, of course, choose any template that looks like the database of your dreams, but in this example you're looking for Contact Management.
FileMaker displays a standard Save dialog box.
The new database appears onscreen, as shown in Figure 1-5.
Part I: Introduction to FileMaker Pro
Your First Database
Organizing and Editing Records
Building a New Database
Part II: Layout Basics
Advanced Layouts and Reports
Part III: Multiple Tables and Relationships
Multiple Tables and Relationships
Advanced Relationship Techniques
Part IV: Calculations
Introduction to Calculations
Calculations and Data Types
Part V: Scripting
Part VI: Security and Integration
Exporting and Importing
Sharing Your Database
Part VII: Appendixes
Appendix A. Getting Help